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Joseph Kaminski

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May 25, 2018

Quick History: Cleopatra’s Influence on Women in Rome


What was the influence Cleopatra had on Roman women and how was she able to become popular among the Roman population? 

In the late 40s BCE, Julius Caesar brought Cleopatra and their 2-year-old son to his Empire. This is the first real cultural elegance that the Romans experienced from the Egyptians, as Cleopatra was a very highly intelligent woman. When Cleopatra came to Rome, the women of the empire became infatuated with her style. These people began to worship Isis, a high-ranking Egyptian goddess, as a “patron saint” for those who transported goods from the Egyptian Kingdom and the Roman shores. The “cult of Isis” formed around this foreign deity, and the majority of its members were the Roman women who followed Cleopatra’s image of beauty and grace. Cleopatra’s experiences in Rome caused major political tensions, as her presence led to Julius Caesar getting an inside look into how other territories treated their leaders – not as mortals but as “gods” and goddesses above all else. People in his inner circles began fearing that Caesar was ruling with an iron fist of a demigod and not the republican values than the empire was formed on, and so he was assassinated on the Ides of March. Cleopatra, an abandoned widow on the wrong side of history with a young child to protect, was forced to flee from the Roman chaos and allied herself with Mark Antony. She and Antony would later commit suicide after a horrendous defeat against Octavian/Augustus. Her Egyptian presence influenced Rome even after her death, as Augustus himself would later bring two obelisks from the deserts of Egypt and erect them in Roman squares.

Related: Where did the month of August come from?

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